It was ten years since I had begun the writing course. But I wrote to them, to see if it was feasible to take up where I left off. Thankfully I’d begun before they put in an expiry date. They allowed me to continue, on the advice it might be worth purchasing up to date course materials. This time I had more experience and more confidence. I managed to finish assignment two, and moved to assignment three. It was an open assignment for a non-fiction piece.
I decided to write what I knew. I wrote about what it was like being married to a minister. I talked to other spouses of ministers and gathered lots of information and experiences. My tutor for the writing course is actually himself a married to a minister, so perhaps that had something to do with his enthusiastic response to the article – but it was enough to propel me to try to get published. I tried initially a Christian women’s magazine who said was good idea but didn’t want it at this time. I then decided the bullet and contact a well-known Christian magazine, which I knew was very hard to get into. It was a bit pie-in-the-sky. A dream. I found it slightly amusing that I was even asking them.
I didn’t hear anything so I bit the bullet again and I rang them up. Phoning people is not my favourite thing! But in my attempt to get through to an underling who wouldn’t frighten me at all, I got put through the assistant editor.
Long story short – they did accept the article. It got changed quite a lot, but it was my first acceptance by a commercial publication, I got paid for it and I was on my way.
Rather presumptuously I registered myself as self-employed writer as soon as this occurred. It could have been the only article I ever got accepted! But thankfully another piece was accepted shortly afterwards by the editor of the magazine who had rejected the first one, and then another, and then another … not that close together (life is full of so many things) but enough to make me feel that I qualified to call myself a writer.
And that was a big moment – not the acceptances, not the publication, but that shift in my own self-perception.
I moved from saying ‘I want to be a writer’ to ‘I am a writer’. That is pivotal. Until that point it could have been called a hobby, more accurately an unfulfilled dream. But I chose for it to be more than that. I made it part of my identity.
There are some dreams worth chasing. If you’re willing to learn, to bend a little, to persist…
You never know.